If you're gay, lesbian, trans, queer, or anything else that falls under the colorful rainbow that is the LGBTQ spectrum, college might be the first time and space you feel comfortable exploring a sexuality you previously felt forced to hide or subdue.
But dating in the LGBTQ communities doesn't come without its quirks, some of which are hard to sidestep without a little help advice from your local alt-weekly. Below is a handy guide to making queer college dating just a little bit easier.
Most colleges nowadays are home to at least one student organization that specializes in helping members of the LGBTQ communities. Seeking out groups like this is a great way to meet like-minded people, and whether that leads to forming new friendships or something deeper, finding a place where you can act more like your true self is a very solid foundation on which to build your college life.
The friendship circle
No matter how organized the LGBT communities is on campus, chances are you probably won't be able to spend all of your time in the designated "safe spaces," so you should do all that you can to create your own. Friends are your first and last lines of defense in the college world, so choose them well and keep them close, and the rest of life should fall into place much easier.
Let's get digital
Like everything these days, dating is quickly becoming digitized. Sure, the idea of locking eyes with your soulmate across the cafeteria sounds romantic, but the chances of it happening are slim to none. So, increase your odds of meeting The One by checking out some reputable dating sites. Apps like Grindr can be hit or miss, especially if you're looking for a relationship to last longer than it takes to do the horizontal polka. Despite making efforts to be more accessible to the LGBTQ communities, Tinder and OkCupid are still thought of mostly as places to find a hook-up. Sites like Match, Compatible Partner, and Chemistry are better outlets if you're looking for something more serious.
Life is hard, but being someone outside of the world's age-old views on gender and sexual expression can make it even harder. All the above advice is a good place to start, but dating gay in a straight world can have more than its share of pitfalls and other dangers. It's never a bad idea to arrange for someone to call you to check up on you in the middle of a date, especially if you met online, or sticking with a group of friends while out with someone new. Either way, making sure you and your community are safe should be a priority.
Dating can be a fun and eye-opening experience, but members of the LGBTQ communities know especially well how hazardous it can be.